Favorite

The exquisite beauty of the high plains 

click to enlarge The moon rises over a windmill and wheat field near Arlington, Colorado. June's full moon is called the Full Strawberry Moon and peaked on Friday, June 9, when this image was shot. It coincides with the time of year that Native Americans gather ripening strawberries. It is also known as the Rose Moon and the Hot Moon. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • The moon rises over a windmill and wheat field near Arlington, Colorado. June's full moon is called the Full Strawberry Moon and peaked on Friday, June 9, when this image was shot. It coincides with the time of year that Native Americans gather ripening strawberries. It is also known as the Rose Moon and the Hot Moon.
A lot of people hate driving across the high plains of Colorado and Kansas.

If you get on the I-70 interstate, it’s just plain boring. But things get a lot more interesting if you pick another route.

click to enlarge A golden field of wheat waits to be harvested outside of Rush, Kansas. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A golden field of wheat waits to be harvested outside of Rush, Kansas.

Every year I travel to visit my farm family in eastern Kansas. I choose to drive the 650 miles using an alternate route if I have time.

click to enlarge An abandoned stone farm house in Alexander, Kansas can be seen from highway 96. Alexander is the oldest city in Rush County, Kansas with a population of 65. It was established in 1869 after becoming an important stopping point along the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Trail, officially a part of the Santa Fe Trail. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • An abandoned stone farm house in Alexander, Kansas can be seen from highway 96. Alexander is the oldest city in Rush County, Kansas with a population of 65. It was established in 1869 after becoming an important stopping point along the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Trail, officially a part of the Santa Fe Trail.

My favorite is highway 96, starting just east of Pueblo it heads east to the town of Great Bend, Kansas. Highway 96 is a two-lane highway dotted with small towns, wheat farms, grain silos and abandoned buildings.

click to enlarge A pro-life sign as seen from the highway 96, a part of the Santa Fe Trail in Scott City, Kansas. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A pro-life sign as seen from the highway 96, a part of the Santa Fe Trail in Scott City, Kansas.
It’s also an historic roadway and is part of the old Santa Fe Trail, an important 19th century transportation route from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

click to enlarge A tree sits in a field of wheat as seen from the highway in Marienthal, Kansas.  Marienthal was founded by a group of immigrant Germans from Russia; they named it after their previous hometown of Marienthal, Russia, known today as Marienka, Ukraine. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A tree sits in a field of wheat as seen from the highway in Marienthal, Kansas. Marienthal was founded by a group of immigrant Germans from Russia; they named it after their previous hometown of Marienthal, Russia, known today as Marienka, Ukraine.

Over the course of my drive, the light changes and the landscape turns color. Greens, blues and yellows to turn into purple and pinks as the sun sets.

click to enlarge Horses stand along a fence line next to highway 96, a part of the historic Santa Fe Trail. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Horses stand along a fence line next to highway 96, a part of the historic Santa Fe Trail.

There are handful of small farming communities and buildings abandoned to the natural landscape on the high plains and I stop when something catches my eye.

click to enlarge A grain silo stands in the distance near Marienthal, Kansas. The silos stand resolutely along highway 96 and serve as the first indication that you are approaching a town. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A grain silo stands in the distance near Marienthal, Kansas. The silos stand resolutely along highway 96 and serve as the first indication that you are approaching a town.

I also like to take notes and make sure upon my return home to check the locations where I photographed and see what sort of history is brought to light. See photo captions to learn about some of the places found on this historic route.

click to enlarge An abandoned structure surrounded by sage brush on the high plains near the site of the Sand Creek massacre. On November 29, 1864, a 675-man force of Colorado U.S. Volunteer Cavalry attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho, killing and mutilating Native Americans, the majority were women and children. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • An abandoned structure surrounded by sage brush on the high plains near the site of the Sand Creek massacre. On November 29, 1864, a 675-man force of Colorado U.S. Volunteer Cavalry attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho, killing and mutilating Native Americans, the majority were women and children.

The next time you have to drive across the high plains, check your map to see if there isn't a more interesting drive that doesn't involve the interstate.  And don't forget to take pictures along the way.

click to enlarge A yellow flower and sage brush along the historic Santa Fe Trail in Kiowa County, Colorado. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A yellow flower and sage brush along the historic Santa Fe Trail in Kiowa County, Colorado.

click to enlarge An abandoned building in the all but abandoned town of Chivington, Colorado, along highway 96. Chivington,  established in 1887, was named for the Reverend John Chivington, a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War and who commanded the volunteer cavalry that perpetrated the Sand Creek massacre. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • An abandoned building in the all but abandoned town of Chivington, Colorado, along highway 96. Chivington, established in 1887, was named for the Reverend John Chivington, a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War and who commanded the volunteer cavalry that perpetrated the Sand Creek massacre.

click to enlarge An abandoned building at sunset on highway 96 in Kiowa County, Colorado. Colors on the prairie change constantly. Greens and blues to turn into purple and pinks as the sun starts to set. - SEAN CAYTOON
  • Sean Caytoon
  • An abandoned building at sunset on highway 96 in Kiowa County, Colorado. Colors on the prairie change constantly. Greens and blues to turn into purple and pinks as the sun starts to set.

click to enlarge Gas pumps outside of Haswell Propane station. Haswell was established between 1905 and 1908. In 2013, the Intel corporation announced that it was naming its newest processor microarchitecture Haswell, after the town. The legal team for the world’s largest computer-chip maker decided that any new product code names be based on existing, non-trademarked places in North America that can be found on a map. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Gas pumps outside of Haswell Propane station. Haswell was established between 1905 and 1908. In 2013, the Intel corporation announced that it was naming its newest processor microarchitecture Haswell, after the town. The legal team for the world’s largest computer-chip maker decided that any new product code names be based on existing, non-trademarked places in North America that can be found on a map.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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